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Harriet Hosmer
Puck
modeled 1854, carved 1856
marble
30 1/2 x 16 5/8 x 19 3/4 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. George Merrill



Puck is based on Robin Goodfellow, the “merry wanderer of the night,” in William Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. This pudgy, bat-winged elf with pointed ears and horns wears the traditional cockleshell to symbolize his wandering nature. Playful subjects derived from classical mythology and literature were common among American sculptors such as Hosmer who worked in Italy in the mid-nineteenth century.